A proposal to provide paid leave for teachers and support staff was pulled by its author on Monday because of concerns about the cost of the benefit. While Sen. Sam Jenkins previously amended Senate Bill 426 to lower the fiscal impact to the state, the effort wasn’t enough to ease concerns of members of the Senate Finance Committee. The Louisiana’s Illuminator’s Allison Allsop reports

But because the Legislative Fiscal Office can only provide estimates on the financial impacts of legislation, lawmakers were weary of the final cost of the legislation. … The original version of the legislation carried an estimated $15.3 million cost to the state. Jenkins’ amendments spelled out that the state would only be responsible for repaying school systems for the cost of substitute teachers instead of employees’ parental leave, reducing the impact by $10 million. 

While SB 426 will not cross the finish line during the 2024 legislative session, the idea of providing paid leave to teachers and support staff is not dead: 

[Jenkins] said he understood some legislators wanted more information and that he planned to sponsor a resolution to study how many teachers take leave for the birth of a child, adoption or pregnancy loss. Jenkins asked the committee to support his resolution since they were the ones wanting more information. He has just two weeks to write and gain approval for his resolution before the legislative session ends June 3.

Iowa’s education savings account program is driving up tuition prices for private schools, according to a study from a Princeton University researcher. Private schools have an obvious financial interest in ESA programs, which subsidize tuition with public tax dollars, because it allows institutions to offer less financial aid and more easily raise admission prices. Emily Schrad, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s local ABC reports

“The promise of more access to private education that school vouchers were supposed to provide, is pretty much being negated by schools raising tuition,” said Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, Iowa House Minority Leader. ”What we end up finding is that for the eligibility universal grades or kindergarten, we see depending on our model a 21 to 25% increase in tuition prices relative to you know the same grade in Nebraska,” said [ Princeton University’s Jennifer] Jennings. 

Concerns over tuition increases were brushed aside during the ESA debate in the Iowa Legislature: 

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said this was something she was concerned about when the vouchers were first being discussed. ”I asked Representative Wills, are there any protections in this bill against schools raising tuition? And his answer was no because they’re a business. And my response was but kids aren’t products. We can’t treat education like a business. 

Senate Bill 313, which would establish an ESA program in Louisiana, is scheduled for debate Tuesday in the House Education Committee. 

Lobbyists for Louisiana’s powerful nursing homes are not giving up on an effort to shield the industry  from certain lawsuits. Sen. Patrick McMath shelved Senate Bill 454 earlier this month after his legislation received negative media coverage and was dubbed the “Bob Dean Protection Act” – named after the nursing home owner who was sued for evacuating his residents to a former pesticide warehouse ahead of Hurricane Ida. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue explains how lobbyists are trying to insert text from McMath’s legislation onto other bills:

McMath’s legislation – or language from it inserted into another bill – would make it more difficult to sue nursing home companies, hospitals and other health care providers. It would also limit any financial awards from a successful health care lawsuit. Had it been in place a few years ago, the bill could have potentially deterred lawsuits brought by Dean’s warehouse victims, critics said.

States’ efforts to purge their Medicaid rolls are disproportionately affecting rural families and children. This process started in April 2023, when states across the country began kicking people off of Medicaid, a move sparked by the end of pandemic-era coverage protections. Since then, 20 million Americans, including 498,000 Louisiana residents, have lost their health coverage. Stateline’s Nada Hassanein reports

States with the largest drops in coverage also have large rural populations. The loss of coverage compounds struggles disproportionately experienced by rural children and families, experts say, including clinician shortages, long drives to care and poorer health outcomes. … “Medicaid is even more of a lifeline for rural communities than it is for urban ones,” said Joan Alker, the center’s executive director. “There are quite a number of states with large rural populations where things are not going well — so that’s very problematic.”

18% – Uninsured rate for Latinos in the United States in 2022, the highest of any racial or ethnic group. The overall uninsured rate was 9% that year. A total of 26 million Americans lacked health insurance coverage in 2022. (Source: American Community Survey via Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)